Legal News

Unexplained Delay Denies Right to Give Evidence

A recent case in which a litigant who waited more than a year to file its final defence against a claim had its late submissions rejected by the court is a reminder that tardiness in legal proceedings can have serious consequences.

After receiving the defence documents, the claimant requested further information in December 2015. On 6 December 2016, with the trial date of 16 January 2017 looming, the defendant in the case applied to amend its responses on two matters without any good explanation for the delay.

Although the claimant accepted one of the proposed changes, the High Court ruled that even if the points raised had both been arguable, the amendments had to be rejected because they would have given the claimant insufficient time to respond and to reconsider its case.

The judge commented, "If I allowed these amendments, they would not only comprise an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction to the claimant as it prepares for a trial that is a month away, but it would probably also give rise to the need for further evidence, perhaps including expert evidence. That would fatally jeopardise the trial date."

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    The strategy of leaving things until the last minute is sometimes adopted to put the other side in a dispute under pressure. However, it can backfire, as was the case here.

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